Monday, October 20, 2014

He Was Provokin' Me

Recently we've seen a rise in the number of children being diagnosed with autism.  While this might be loosely tied to older men fathering children or environmental toxins, the actual truth seems to be that we really don't know why this is the case.

Many children diagnosed have high I.Q.'s and function well in mainstream classrooms academically.  The problems for these children are more social.  They often do not respond as well to regular interactive cues.  Many don't smile very often.  They are often bullied by other children because they don't pick up on the subtle nuances that occur in everyday communication.

Children who don't get a response to their overtures from an autistic child may feel somewhat slighted.  If they have poor self-esteem themselves, they may pick on the autistic child because they don't understand why they are being ignored.

Most people appreciate some type of reaction or response from others.  One of the worst things in life is to be ignored (anyone remember Ally Sheedy's character from The Breakfast Club?).

One of my faults is the ability to find the sore spots on people that trigger a reaction. Finding and exposing a person's vulnerability was a gift (curse?) that I try not to use anymore.  Some people call this "pushing the right buttons".  It is likely a defense mechanism along the lines of the best defense is a good offense.

Regardless, responses are important as part of the social covenant.

I believe that even though we are influenced, we are still free to decide our response in any situation.

When I tried to give Sheryl her ring during our wedding,
she dropped it.  It was probably self-preservation trying
to kick in on her part!
When two people enter the marriage covenant, they respond to the query of whether they will be
faithful to one another with the affirmative (usually "I will" or "I do").  If their response is negative (this hasn't ever happened to me in all my years of officiating), this would be a good sign that their commitment level is not at the appropriate level for a life-long marriage!

When it comes to God, many people respond to the forgiveness and grace we've received by making a commitment of faith.  Within United Methodism, we pledge to support Christ through the church with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness.  It is no small thing.

This Sunday, I'll be preaching on the parable of the two brothers - one is faithful and one is not - contained in Matthew 21:28-32.  Their response shows that human beings really haven't changed much in 2000 years.

If your own response to God has been lacking lately, I hope you'll remedy this on Sunday.  I promise I won't try to intentionally push your buttons but I may accidentally trod on your toes!

In Christ,


Photo by Petar Milošević via Wikimedia Commons

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